The ramifications of 5G to Australia are some of the most significant since the invention of the motor car.
Summary : 5G technology & what it means to you
- 5G is the 5th generation of mobile technology, due for delivery in Australia around 2020, although standards are still being agreed.
- To users, it will represent a number of advantages, the biggest of which is incredible data bandwidth, more than 50 times what 4G offers. 5G will change things more than any previous generation of mobile data.
- 5G data is likely to make you feel like you have ‘unlimited bandwidth’ and immediate download of everything you want. For example, downloading a full 8GB High Definition movie to your phone could take less than 10 seconds.
- Other advantages include lower power consumption. That’s is important both for the batteries in the many millions of Internet Of Things products and the daily life of the screen on your own phone.
- 5G could underpin driverless cars and incredible levels of digital personalization. It will increase competition from overseas workers who, through the use of the technology, will appear more than ever to be part of a local team.
- But 5G is a huge cost to the phone companies, incurred at a time when their revenues are being taken by Over The Top players. Could it cause consolidation in the telco market?
Best SIM Only Plans May 2018
Boost Mobile | Best Prepaid Data Rates On The Full Telstra Network
Prepaid | 28 day expiry | On The Telstra Mobile Network 3G+4G
Boost Mobile are a reliable brand. They are the only phone company other than Telstra to resell the full Telstra ‘Retail’ Network. With Boost you’ll get:
- The full Telstra Mobile Network
Other phone companies resell part of the Telstra Mobile Network. Only Boost and Telstra plans allow you access the whole thing.
- Free streamed audio:
Data free streaming of Apple Music (requires subscription) on top of the data included in your plan.
- A range that includes 7 day and 28 day plans:
Boost offer a selection of plans including 7 and 28 day variants.
- Recharge options from $10 to $50:
Boost have a total of 5 recharge options for their prepaid plans, ranging between $10 and $50.
Boost Mobile Plans For Your Mobile
- Boost $10 Prepaid = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 1GB data. Now only $5!
- Boost $20 Prepaid = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 2.5GB data.
- Boost $30 Prepaid = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 5GB data. Now only $15!
- Boost $40 Prepaid = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 15GB data. Now only $20!
- Boost $50 Prepaid = Unlimited calls & SMS in Oz + 20GB data.
All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Boost Mobile review.
Belong Mobile | Fairest For Data
Postpaid | Month to Month agreement | On The Telstra Mobile Network 3G+4G
Belong sell access to the Telstra Mobile Network. They have a simple to understand plan structure with options on data, national ($5 extra) and international calls ($5 extra.) Belong also offer the fairest treatment of data that any phone company in Australia have. a ‘data vault’ feature. Whatever data you buy, is yours, forever. It just keeps rolling over until you use it or leave them.
With Belong, you’ll get:
- Data Vault:
All Belong’s Mobile plans come with ‘data vault’. When you buy your data, it just keeps rolling over until you decide to use it or leave them!
- $5 International Calls:
And if you want to make Unlimited International Calls (to 10 selected destinations – or to 23 selected countries’ landlines) just add $5.
Belong Plans For Your Mobile
- Belong Mobile $10 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 1GB of data.
- Belong Mobile $15 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited international calls & text to 36 selected countries + 1GB of data.
- Belong Mobile $25 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 5GB of data.
- Belong Mobile $30 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited international calls & text to 36 selected countries + 5GB of data.
- Belong Mobile $40 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 15GB of data.
All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. You can learn more about this company in our Belong Mobile review.
Strong, Simple Plans & A Well Known Brand
Amaysim | Prepaid Plans | Optus Mobile Network 3G+4G
Amaysim are the 4th biggest phone company in Australia with over 1m customers. They consistently have one of the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry and have prepaid (28 day expiry) plan range – just select the option you want in their checkout. With Amaysim, you’ll get:
- Strong plan range:
Amaysim have a range starting at $10 per month and rising to $50 per month. Data inclusions are up there with the best available and, with Amaysim, things are nice and simple. You’re just buying voice calls, SMS and data. There are no optional extras.
- New International Inclusions:
Any plan you buy, starting at $30 per month will now include free International Calls to 12 destinations.
- Great Customer Experience:
Amaysim are consistently one of the best performing†phone companies when it comes to customer satisfaction.
Amaysim’s plan range:
- Amaysim UnlimitedPrepaid $10 = Unlimited calls and SMS + 1GB of data.
- Amaysim Unlimited Prepaid $20 = Unlimited calls and SMS + 2.5GB of data.
- Amaysim UnlimitedPrepaid $30 =Unlimited calls and SMS + 5GB of data.
- Amaysim UnlimitedPrepaid $40 = Unlimited calls and SMS + 15GB of data.
- Amaysim Unlimited Prepaid $50 = Unlimited calls and SMS + 20GB of data.
- Amaysim As You Go $10 = 15c per min voice, 15c per SMS and 15.4c per MB data.
You can find out more about this company in our Amaysim review.
OVO Mobile – Free Video & Radio Content
Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Optus 3G and 4G Network
OVO’s offer a totally new way of looking at a phone company – they’re one of our best selling partners. Their plans are, pretty much on a par for data inclusions with the best in the industry. In addition to talk time, SMS and data, OVO’s plans include exclusive access to exclusive video content. All of OVO’s plans come with ‘OVO Play’ an app which lets you watch their free content on your plan. With OVO, you’ll get:
- Free Video Content – Motorsport, Sailing, Gymnastics & Water Polo :
OVO offer a growing list of free video and audio content. Motorsport fans might like the 400 Thunder Professional Drag Racing Series, Australian GT, Formula Drift and other petrol head live streaming. OVO Play also includes other sports like sailing and gymnastics. The price of the content is included in the monthly line rental charge you pay OVO for your prepaid plan. So, importantly: You won’t see your data balance decline while you’re watching them, the streamed content is free.
- Free Streamed Audio:
OVO’s plans also offer FREE radio streaming, also included in your plan offers access to the Tripple M network and other selected stations.
- OVO for Kids:
OVO’s plans come with the offer of free access to Parental Lock software. Buy your child the $9.95 plan from OVO and you’ll be able to monitor what they access on their phone and set times for it to turn off and turn on it’s own connection to the internet.
OVO Plans for your mobile
Picking an OVO plan is simple. All of OVO’s plans include Unlimited talk and SMS in Australia to Australian numbers plus superfast 4G data.
- $9.95 Unlimited = $200 standard calls and unlimited SMS / MMS + 1GB. Save 50% for each of the first 3 months.
- $19.95 Unlimited = $500 standard calls and unlimited SMS / MMS + 2GB. Save 50% for each of the first 3 months.
- $29.95 Unlimited = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 5GB. Save 50% for each of the first 3 months.
- $34.95 Unlimited = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 10GB. Save 50% for each of the first 3 months.
- $49.95 Unlimited = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 19GB. Save 50% for each of the first 3 months.
You can learn more about them and their unique content in our OVO review.
Kogan Mobile – Best Value on the Vodafone Network
Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Vodafone 3G and 4G Network
Kogan Mobile keep it simple. They have some of the most competitive SIM Only / Prepaid plans in Australia, on the much improved Vodafone network. With their multi month recharge options, Kogan add some genuine value and choice to the market.
With Kogan, you’ll get
- Monthly, quarterly or annual options : Do you want a single recharge payment with a 1, 3 or 12 month validity ? With Kogan, you’ll get discounts for multi-month purchases you were going to make anyway. They add the convenience of less frequent running out / topping up. And they keep the total predictability and flexibility of prepaid.
Kogan’s 30 day plan range :
Kogan’s 30 day plans all have Unlimited talk and SMS in Australia to Australian numbers. The difference is the amount of data which is included.
- Kogan EXTRA LARGE $49.9 – 30 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 23GB. Now only $4.90!
- Kogan LARGE $36.9 – 30 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 16GB.
- Kogan MEDIUM $29.9 – 30 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 6GB.
- Kogan SMALL $16.9 – 30 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 2GB.
- Kogan SMALL $46.90 – 90 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 2GB.
- Kogan MEDIUM $79.90 – 90 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 6GB.
- Kogan LARGE $99.90 – 90 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 16GB.
- Kogan EXTRA LARGE $139.90 – 90 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 23GB.
- Kogan SMALL $179.90 – 365 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 2GB. Now only $152.10!
- Kogan MEDIUM $299.90 – 365 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 6GB. Now only $223.90!
- Kogan LARGE $399.90 – 365 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 16GB. Now only $254.30!
- Kogan EXTRA LARGE $529.90 – 365 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 23GB. Now only $315.10!
All talk time and SMS for use in Australia to Australian numbers. All data is for use in Australia. See all Kogan Plans including 90 day and 365 day plans. You can find out more about this company in our Kogan Mobile review.
Great Value Data & Best For International Calls
Prepaid | 30 day expiry | On the Full Vodafone 3G and 4G Network
If you’re after an unlimited plan with incredible data inclusions, or you make calls overseas, in our view, you need look no further than Lebara. Lebara use the much improved Vodafone 3G + 4G network which covers more than 96% of Australians. With Lebara, you’ll get :
- Big Data on the Vodafone 3G + 4G network:
Lebara’s plans include enough data for even the most ravenous data eaters.
- Broad Range Including Plans With International Calls:
Lebara have Unlimited International Call plans at $29.90 and $49.90 price points. Lebara’s cheaper international call rates cover all the major destinations including : UK, USA, Greece, China, Canada, Germany, Denmark, France, South Korea and Switzerland. (Inclusions vary, see our review.)
Lebara have 30 day plans, 180 day plans and 360 day plans. Buy up-front and save.
Lebara’s prepaid plan range:
- Lebara Extra Small Plan $14.90 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz + 2GB data.
- Lebara Small Plan $24.9 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard call to 10 selected countries + 3.5GB data.
- Lebara Medium Plan $29.9 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard call to 15 selected countries + 15GB data first month (5GB + 10GB bonus). Now only $7.86!
- Lebara Large Plan $39.9 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard calls to 18 selected countries + 26GB data (10GB + 16GB bonus).
- Lebara Extra Large Plan $49.9 = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard calls to 50 selected countries + 30GB data (20GB + 10GB activation bonus).
- Lebara Medium Plan $160 – 180 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard calls to 15 selected countries + 5GB data.
- Lebara Large Plan $225 – 180 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard calls to 18 selected countries + 16GB data.
- Lebara Medium Plan $300 – 360 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard calls to 12 selected countries + 5GB data.
- Lebara Large Plan $420 – 360 Days = Unlimited calls and SMS in Oz with unlimited standard calls to 18 selected countries + 16GB data.
You can find out more about this company in our full Lebara Review.
Introducing 5G in Australia
5G is the 5th Generation of communications technology offered by the GSMA (the GSM Association). GSM is the Global System for Mobile Telecommunication – it’s the set of standards put in place to ‘agree’ how phones ‘talk’ to phone companies and how phone companies ‘talk’ to each other. The GSMA is how all of those moving part, bodies, manufacturers and companies fit together.
The most important features of 5G, to average users will be the speed of data download – up to 100 times what 4G is capable of and zero latency – faster responses when you engage with the cloud.
In essence, to you, 5G just means faster data transfer from the wireless network you use (e.g. Vodafone) to your phone. See below for just how fast that will be. It’s likely that users will experience apparently ‘limitless bandwidth.’ Imagine that everything you want to download comes to your phone straight away. You want your entire music catalog on your handset – done. Want to watch a film. The whole thing is there immediately.
This evolution of mobile communications technology has been happening for the last 20 years. You might be familiar with terms like 4G / LTE which we have gone to some lengths to explain on our site. The predecessor to 4G, 3G, arrived in Australia around 2005 and manifested in several forms, one of which the ‘Next G’ network for Telstra users, you might remember. They spent a lot of time marketing it.
Before 3G was 2G, GPRS (General Packet Radio System) with it’s much hyped and never delivered ‘WAP’ revenues. Prior to that (although it wasn’t called this at the time came ‘1G’), simple GSM.
These generations represent global agreements which is why you can set off with your phone in Australia and it’ll still work in almost any country. The body responsible for coordinating parties to agree the standards is the GSMA.
A lot has happened since GSM started. BlackBerry mobilized the internet using GPRS providing email wherever you are and even very rudimentary web browsing. The iPhone used 3G’s faster data speeds to enable web browsing. Basic video, albeit often low resolution, also arrived with 3G. The ‘Three’ network in the UK and over here launched telling us we would all use 3G for video calling. Now we take watching video for granted on 4G phones. Maps are standard today and we expect them to load fast.
Companies like Optus and OVO Mobile are increasingly using the technology to differentiate themselves in a largely homogenous market. When everyone has the same standards and the same phones, differentiation is hard on technology but content can make you stand out.
5G will underpin the next level of data and internet services that will be brought to Australia. Simultaneously, it will support an Internet of Things, cars and wearables connected to the internet. 21bn devices will be connected in the next 4 years say Gartner.
Australia is one of the world’s fastest adopters of technology. We can expect phones to start to support the facility before then. Rollouts of new networks tend to begin in city areas, where the population is most densely inhabited. The phone companies have learned from their experience with 4G. Changing over to 5G has already been considered.
If history is anything to go by, Vodafone stand to win big with their 5G deployment. As a global organization, they have more than 35 phone companies around the world which need to move to 5G. They tend to start fast, rolling out quickly in one territory and take the lessons they’ve learned to other countries around the world. They have the international muscle to influence the GSMA and they have the operating companies to practice on. History suggests that Vodafone might build the best network quickest.
What is the state of 5G in Australia now?
Not a lot has been said about 5G in Australia. Around the world, however, the work required to set the standards for 5G networks is still being developed. In the UK and USA trial schemes are underway. Verizon in the US is notably dipping its toes in the 5G pool, experimenting. Phone manufacturers too are engaging with the GSMA to get their side right. The South Koran government are spending more than $1bn and want a trial in place, at least in part to support their national manufacturer, Samsung.
How will the customer experience work?
- Unlimited capacity :
The best way to demonstrate the speeds most consumers will need is using video. Video files are the biggest files most people need. With 5G, an 8GB High Def movie will comes down to your phone in 10 seconds compared to over an hour on 4G. You won’t be doing this all the time though. There will be a smaller number of times that you and someone else are requesting something on the network at the same time. The result is likely to be the perception of unlimited download speeds. Web pages, currently constrained by 4G networks will get heavier and have more functionality built in. We will have richer experiences on mobile as just one of the many changes we will see.
- Preferences in the clouds :
We lead increasingly digital lives. We leave digital fingerprints and trails wherever we go. We have digital browsing histories, bookmarks, address details and cookies. We have histories of previously clicked links and searched term lists. Imagine that whenever you get in a car everything about your history and preferences is downloaded instantly and used to personalize your experience. Your favorite TV shows are all there for you to watch. If there is going to be an accident, say the car has started slipping on ice – the car will sense it’s slipping and, usie the speed of 5G to notified the vehicle in front before the incident occurs. This might seem incredible to you but millisecond switching already takes place to move you from one cell tower to another as you drive down the motorway and you don’t even notice
- Zero latency :
Latency is the time taken to send a data packet as part of a transfer. At the moment, that takes a seemly trivial 50 ms but 5G will drop that down to 0 ms. The effect could be substantial when you consider the cumulative number of connections your phone makes each hour, day or year.
And the target to deliver all of this is only 2020 in Australia.
5G – Uses and use cases
How real customers will experience and use 5G.
- Video calling:
We will use 5G for what we know : Video calling / Facetime. 5G might include facilities to allocate and prioritize traffic over the network to improve services. Facilities like speech and face to face meetings benefit from allocated bandwidth because conversation suffers noticibly if a delay is introduced.
We mention Facebook in this context because what they are proposing is significant in terms of the bandwidth they might use. Facebook are betting big on things like Artificial Realty, one of those applications which it’s hard to anticipate bandwith requirements for. But at some point, Facebook will release an artificial reality social network.
Telecommuting and video conferencing will be possible in a way that’s hard to imagine now. It’ll be easy to set up a facility to talk about work in a group conversation, seeing other’s work or face on the screen, like they are in the room next to you. There are good bits and bad bits to this. As we move to a ‘Gig economy’ we are likely to enjoy facilities like this which allow us to team better. It does, however, simultaneously, open Australians up to competition from millions (billions ?) of trained individuals overseas who also have 5G and can now compete to replace us in those quickly cobbled together teams.
- Connected devices:
The IoT stands to benefit from super low power drain from 5G networks. Some are targeting up to 10 years for devices between charges. When long battery lives are combined with the eSIM the result could lead to an asset being in the field for many years, switching providers.
5G technology – how will it work?
Those who understand the technology that will be used in the ongoing operation of 5G networks say the international standard will offer a ‘superfast, green and soft’ solution. The energy usage of the new network will be materially decreased compared to previous versions, to allow the sea of connected IoT devices to access it. Obviously that has environmental as well as battery ramifications. Like many things these days, management and optimization will be done using software which is why they describe 5G as soft.
5G will also affect the quality of the calls you make. VoLTE lead to the replacement of the existing alternative. At the moment, there is a nearly entirely separate digital network used to transmit your voice signal (as opposed to the data you need) With 5G, at some point, the old voice transmission network will be turned off and the only way to talk will be over VoLTE. This is likely to invalidate a lot of handsets so it might be a while before such a theoretical facility is deployed.
Finally, 5G technology could change the skyline. 5G protocols and hardware are, as we say, still being defined. One hardware solution could involve smaller antennae or a solution which, at the moment, seems weird: One antenna to ‘fish’ for the signal of a phone wanting to make a calls with another taking the call over when it’s been found for the bulk of the communication. Depending on the standards which are approved, this sort of approach could improve coverage.
5G Commercials – making money out of 5G
Who’d be a telco ? Phone companies like Optus, Telstra and Vodafone are just like the private equity companies which build roads. They spend a fortune on the infrastructure and then charge everyone a little bit, each time they use it, to go on a trip or to make a call. The thing about being a phone company is that they have to rip the road up and rebuild it much better every 10 years.
The value in telco is rolling up to the OTT (Over The Top) players. The WhatsApps, the Facebooks, the You Tubes etc. are the people making the money out of customers’ mobile network use. The incredible cost of another network rollout may lead to some rationalization in the network investments being undertaken. It could even cause the aggregation of some phone companies. It costs $bns to deploy 5G. One argument we’ve made before is that potentially, the best thing to do for competition in Australia, is to close down the 3 competing networks and build one which is then resold by all of them.
The consolidation of networks remove the cost of the network and focus the phone companies where they should be – on the pricing of their service and the customer service they offer rather than building, maintaining, improving and charging us all for the privilege of using their networks.
And it’s not just the hardware, software and services which have to be paid for and rolled out by the phone companies. They also have frequency spectrum to pay for which is auctioned by the government and costs billions. In the UK, everyone got a penny tax cut because the phone companies paid for all the bandwidth they needed when 3G spectrums were sold.
Summing up 5G and its impacts
It’s sometimes hard to know how new technologies will reveal themselves in our lives. 3G was touted as a brave new world which would lead to us all video calling each other. The suggestion, I remember clearly, when I was at Vodafone in the UK was that we would all be watching streamed Sky News on our phones when 3G data speeds launched. It happened, slowly, you might expect a very small number of people to do that now. But the future they touted never really materialized in the way we’d hoped at launch. For example, I’ve personally never watched Sky News on my phone.
5G standards should be agreed by 2018. At it won’t all be good news. 5G may render previously functional, older handsets unusable. The speeds they promise us with a new ‘G’ don’t always materialize either. Look at 4G. With multiple handsets attached to a tower / network at one time, the service slows noticeably. The same is likely to be true for 5G. The download speeds the industry claim are almost always laboratory speeds which real users in the real world won’t get. That said, 5G could be so fast that, for the applications we use now, we could experience in every practical sense the limitless bandwidth they propose. It will be other, more data intensive applications, those we don’t use yet because they haven’t been invented, that will cause the problems.
Pricing comes from value and, to most people, what’s valuable is what’s scarce. But how do you charge someone for a service which is not being competed for? At any one time, the proportion of the available 5G bandwidth being used is going to be tiny. Explaining that to people is going to be tough.
Often, the question is about technical vs cultural adoption as in the case of the video calling and sky sports for 3G. How will Australians react to such a revolutionary step forward ? Will they see a need ?
Such an array of hardware and software connecting everything is going to require better data management. There is an opportunity for those who work outside telco to act. Telco billing systems are already old and clunky – up to a quarter century in some cases. Data management facilities, when you can analyze behaviors, usage patterns, predict faults and personalize network services will be valuable to the networks. To me, the most interesting aspect of 5G is the personalization that it will enable. It’s the generation of all this data which seems set to influence our lives the most. Companies using what they know about you to provide the best services possible.
And finally, 5G probably won’t be the last G. Seeing what 6G might look like is like going beyond the singularity. It’s as impossible to guess now, in the same way that judging a world of infinite bandwidth of 5G would be possible as the 3G networks were deployed.
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